The Dark Side of Montgomery

I saw Frank York last night on my way home from the airport.

Frank was lying face down next to his car as we drove by the gas station where he died. According to the newspaper, he was 25, from Selma, and killed in a drug deal. Police say they found some marijuana and a gun next to his body.

The killing was Montgomery’s 23rd of the year, which, from what I understand, puts us under the pace to meet last year’s mark. This group ranked Montgomery as the second worst mid-size city in the U.S. for crime, noting the high murder rate. According to WSFA, the local TV station, the cops reported 31 murders in 2005 and 28 in 2006. The city population was 201,568 as of the 2000 census.

I’m not really interested in diving into crime stats much more than that, or comparing Montgomery to Detroit or de-populated New Orleans. Frank York is dead and I saw the gas station parking lot where he died. It’s pretty close to my house. Dying on pavement next to a flithy gas pump seems terrible.

Frank York may have been a jerk. He may have been trying to rob the person who killed him. The gun and marijuana may or may not have been his. The killing may or may not have been about drugs much more powerful than marijuana. Maybe it was about romance. Maybe they argued and the gun went off accidentally. Maybe the police will catch the killer by looking at the gas station security cameras. Maybe not.

Meanwhile, the hyper-racist Montgomery Advertiser message boards will continue to spew filth like a punctured sewer pipe. Their discussions of crime and race by these anonymous posters make me ashamed to live in this city. And at the same time, we still hear gunshots from our house, even though it’s in a lovely area of town. And the white people continue to flee to the east, where they refuse to pay for city schools and build enormous and vile big box stores and strip malls.

I don’t want to get off on a digression, complaining about how Montgomery has lost luster over the years. I don’t want a reflection on murder in Montgomery to become an elegy for the Blue-Gray Football Classic.

So seeing the lifeless corpse of Frank York, a 25-year-old from Selma, really made me think about Montgomery. Big problems. No easy solutions.

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